Large Fire at Fakenham Factory Shop Destroys Buildings
The community of Fakenham is today coming to terms with the loss of one of its most recognisable buildings after a major blaze ripped through the historic heart of its market place.
Around 100 fire-fighters tackled the fire at its height in Fakenham’s Market Square after it began.
Two people had to be dramatically rescued from the burning building as horrified onlookers stood in shock and disbelief as scores of firefighters fought to contain the fire which broke out just after 10.30am - just minutes after the store opened for its usual Sunday trading.
The blaze was brought under control after several hours, though not before one of the buildings partially collapsed.
Nearby homes had to be evacuated and some roads shut after the blaze took hold.
Two people have been treated by paramedics for the effects of smoke inhlation.
Eyewitness Andy Hogan said he saw the front windows of the factory shop blow out in an explosion and flames rising several metres above the roof.
An evacuation centre has been set up in the nearby Fakenham Connect building for those affected by the blaze, North Norfolk District Council said.
Mr Hogan said he was at a cafe about two doors down from the shop at 10:15 when he heard "crackling and popping" and saw black smoke.
He said there were "small explosions" inside the shop and another followed which blew out the front windows. A car outside then caught fire.
He said a number of staff were outside the shop in shock.
Duty Manager David Ashworth told the BBC the blaze had damaged six or seven properties and that people living in flats in the terrace had to be helped to safety.
He said the fire had affected a 70m by 70m area covering three and four floors.
Mr Ashworth said it was "devastating" the buildings were in one of the oldest parts of the town, but it could have been an "awful lot worse" as the premises contained a "significant amount" of timber.
Town mayor Jeremy Punchard said: “It’s a tragic loss of a beautiful building that’s part of the conservation area. It’s devastating, not only for people who work there but for the town.”
He added: “The fire service has done a marvellous job containing the fire.”
| ||Collated by Philip Turnbull |